Reflections on Anger: Women and Men in a Changing Society

Reflections on Anger: Women and Men in a Changing Society

Reflections on Anger: Women and Men in a Changing Society

Reflections on Anger: Women and Men in a Changing Society

Synopsis

This book provides insight into the emotion of anger from a theoretical and empirical standpoint and from the viewpoint of fifty ordinary women and men who share their experiences, beliefs, and perceptions of anger in their own and others' lives. The author's main goal is to explore the extent and sources of anger that women and men feel toward members of the other sex and their perceptions of what angers other men and women. Respondents' general experiences with the emotion of anger are also investigated. Experiences and beliefs about various aspects of gender-based anger are put in the context of respondents' beliefs about recent gender role changes as well as their perceptions of ways to improve relationships between women and men.

Excerpt

When I told people that I was writing a book on men, women, and anger, almost without exception the response was, "That sounds interesting!" the next most common reply -- typically from a woman -- was along the lines of, "You got a few hours? I could tell you some things!" I suppose this topic seems so interesting because it deals with an area of our lives that we rarely talk about openly. Anger, in both ourselves and others, is at once familiar and alien. Although part of ourselves and our lives, it is rarely closely examined because it makes us uncomfortable, and most of us do our best to get it behind us. This is an emotion that catches us off-guard. the power punch of anger and its potential or actual loss of control make it hard to tarry in its wake.

We may fear anger because we don't understand it. the unrestrained anger hurled at us by a loved person in our life may gouge out small and large chunks of security and trust until we are no longer whole, but we are not sure what to do in response. Although a family may be ravaged by this angry person -- as many of those I interviewed testified -- this anger does not tend to become a topic for discussion. This silence makes it impossible to understand anger and easy to fear it. Such a situation gives anger more power than it deserves. At its best, anger should simply be a warning, a signal of something gone wrong. We ought to be able to rally as a family or as an individual and ask the angry person, "What is it that is hurting you, threatening you, troubling you?" What can we do to identify and cast out the demons -- the fears, disappointments, injustices, worries -- that are behind the shouted words, the raised hand, the sarcastic tone, the hurled plate?

By and large the individuals I talked with had no real sense of the origins of anger in their parents. a person would simply state, "My father was an angry man." It was a given, the way it was, regardless of how much damage and hurt derived from the expression of that anger. No one approached and asked the angry person to explain his or her actions. It is easy to understand why people do . . .

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